A light final day at the Audi Melges 20 Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week 2014 and one last race rounded out the competition in Charleston, SC for the twenty-plus Audi Melges 20 fleet.
Charleston, SC - What started out as a promising final day of action at Sperry-Topsider Charleston Race Week, slowly drifted away with the outgoing tide. Audi Melges 20 sailors were teased by a light easterly wind as the Race Committee and fleet were both hoping for a three race day.
With what never amounted to more than five knots of wind, and a two knot outgoing tide, conditions were simply not sailable. After a few attempts, a cancellation, and several general recalls resulting in a black flag start, one race was completed shortly before the 2 o'clock cutoff.
Having only one race allowed Jason Michas on Midnight Blue to seal the victory and basically take a victory lap by sailing the race and posting yet another top finish. There was plenty of action as the second through sixth positions effectively were very much in doubt, along with the top ten. A determined PRO, Hank Stuart sounded the warning signal at 1;30, with the fleet eventually getting underway after several attempts with a few victims of a Z Flag, and no teams being called over on a grim black flag.
The remnants of the ebb tide at the bottom of the course gave a strong push upwind, making it very difficult to stay below the starting line and not be OCS. Timing to the line was key, and as the breeze pulsed in and out with an oncoming flood tide, conditions were changing by the minute and making a game-plan for the first upwind depended largely on cues from the Melges 24s fleet ahead, as well as recognizing when gains or losses were being made when crossing a current line.
Getting off cleanly at the middle-boat portion of the starting line was third and fourth place teams, Michael Kiss' Bacio and Grace Lucas' Bombarda. An attempt by Lucas to send her competitor to the wrong side of the course ended up being a costly mistake as Bacio was able to pull a Houdini, escape cleanly to the left side, sail smartly and exit the left corner looking strong and along with John Taylor's Ninkasi, Michas, and a late blooming Rob Wilber and his Cinghiale team. Richard Davies' Section 16 who was in second overall, led the charge from the right side, rounding in fifth and looking strong to secure their bid for a podium finish.
With a shortened course and a breeze that seemed to get patchier, Kiss maintained his lead for a bullet, securing third place overall, and bumping Lucas to fourth. Wilber finished strongly to round out the top five. John Brown and his Blind Squirrel team started off hot with two second place finishes on Day one to jump out to lead the Corinthian standings and never look back. Sailing with his team on both the Audi Melges 20, and the E-Scow during the summers, this team is well polished and will be tough at the 2014 Worlds later this year.
That is a wrap on a truly amazing weekend of sailing in Charleston Harbor, and Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week. Conditions could not have been more stellar and the vibe of this event and the competitors was spring-time jubilation mixed with a competitive camraderie that left everyone smiling from morning dock chat sessions, to afternoon banter, to nighttime revelry. The 2015 CRW is already circled on the Audi Melges 20 calendar.
From here the fleet scatters north east and west to compete on their home waters and regional events, before getting together for the Nationals in Newport, RI in August.
The International Audi Melges 20 Class extends many thanks for the more than 300 volunteers and Organizing Authority that makes the Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week 2014 possible. Amazing racing, terrific race management and awesome off-the-water activities make this regatta one of the very, very best.
Additional thanks are extended to our great friends at the Carolina Yacht Club (CYC), in particular Mr. Crayton Walters. CYC's warm welcome and hospitality to our teams was second to none. We look forward to returning many years to come.
Top five results (After seven races- Final)
1.) Jason Michas-Mark Mendleblatt, Midnight Blue; 2-1-4-3-1--4 = 15
2.) Richard Davies-Charlie McKee, Section 16; 10-4--1-3-5-5 = 28
3.) Michael Kiss-Chris Rast, Bacio; 5-7-9--4-3-1 = 29
4.) Grace Lucas-Sam Rogers, Bombarda; 1-8--5-7-4-7 = 32
5.) Rob Wilber-Anthony Kotoun, Cinghiale; -14-5-7-6-1-3 = 36
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